Microsoft angers Windows 11 users because of… emojis?

A finger presses a button on the keyboard with an angry emoji.
(Image credit: STEKLO / Shutterstock)

Microsoft has managed to annoy quite a few Windows 11 users, but not for the reasons you may expect. As part of Windows 11’s visual overhaul, Microsoft made a reasonably big deal over redesigned emojis – those little cartoon faces that some people use to pepper their conversations with.

Windows 11’s ‘Fluent Design’ look is a big departure from Windows 10, and emojis were expected to be redesigned to fit in with the new look. As MSPoweruser reports, Microsoft’s Windows social media profiles were teasing the new look emojis, and so a fairly sizable portion of the Windows 11 userbase was looking forward to getting them.

However, it seems like the emoji hype has backfired, as Microsoft has included the redesigned emojis in a new Insider build of Windows 11. These are early versions of the operating system sent out to people who have signed up to help test upcoming new features. 

The problem is, the new emojis do not look as good as the ones teased by Microsoft, and some people aren’t happy.

Spot the difference

As you can see from the Windows UK tweet above, the emojis that were hinted at are lively and engaging, with a hint of 3D design.

However, the new emojis that are coming to Windows 11 are pretty different, with a less interesting flat 2D design.

comparisons of Windows 11 emojis

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The differences between what was hinted at and what was delivered wasn’t missed by many people, who have been complaining to Microsoft about it, with some even accusing Microsoft of scamming them.

That’s a bit over the top – these are just emoji’s overall – and it led to Microsoft Program manager Brandon LeBlanc apologizing, suggesting that the wrong graphics had been used.

LeBlanc also hinted to another annoyed user that those 3D emojis may come at a later date.

Analysis: Communication matters

While this controversy around what emojis look like in Windows 11 may seem like a load of sound and fury, signifying nothing, it does highlight how important communication is for companies who are drumming up hype for their products.

If you’re hinting at a new design or feature, no matter how minor, you’re going to want to deliver on those promises, or someone somewhere will likely be disappointed. The reaction to ‘emojigate’ may have taken Microsoft by surprise, but for many people around the world, emojis are a key part of how they communicate with friends and loved ones, so how they look can mean a lot to them.

Hopefully, Microsoft delivers on its promise of emojis for those who are disappointed, while taking an important lesson from this: no matter how small a feature may be, never over-promise and underdeliver.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.